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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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effect of family planning programs depends upon the family-size ideals of the culture or region into which they are introduced. Some demographers have argued that, given the family-size ideals currently prevailing, voluntary family planning can reduce birth rates by no more than 20 percent in the less developed countries, a reduction that would still leave these countries with growth rates high enough to double their populations every generation (7). Such a doubling rate constitutes an increase rapid enough to augment or provoke economic difficulties and to impede governments' efforts to provide health, education, and welfare services.
A third and quite different argument has been advanced against family planning programs as instruments of government population policy. We cannot, so this argument runs, leave the decisions of social issues to individual couples. We cannot expect couples, each pursuing their own interests, to satisfy the interests or needs of society (8, 9).
Still a fourth consideration has arisen. Increasingly, it is said that family planning programs are not the sole way in which governments are involved in influencing the costs and benefits of having children.* For example, child labor laws and compulsory education have the effect of increasing the cost of having children; whereas tax deductions, maternity benefits, baby bonuses, and aid to dependent children subsidize parenthood and reduce its costs.
Given these doubts concerning the efficacy of family planning as a means of implementing population policy anTgweTTalso the growing realization that governments (deliberately or not) already have programs that go beyond the mere provision of contraceptives, it is not surprising to find a proliferation of population proposals that would augment or supplant reliance upon family planning programs.t
Population policy proposals advocate ways of coping with problems associated with rapid population growth. Defining the problematic character of rapid population growth is an assessment of what is "wrong with the world," or "what is bad for people." Without defining what is harmful about a given demographic situation and specifying the benefits, that would follow from changing it by means of a given policy, a recommendation would lack legiti-
*An extensive discussion of this appears in the chapter on population policy in Vol. I of this study.
'See Berelson (10) for a review and evaluation of twenty-nine such proposals.," Law and